Growing up, Sammy played every sport imaginable, ranging from football to golf. His passion and love for each game continues to grow, so much so that he watched endless hours of ESPN to keep up with his favorite past times.
Sports even determined Sammy’s career goal – to work at ESPN.
But that career goal was put on hold when he was diagnosed with cancer. Instead, his love for sports become a huge part of Sammy’s recovery.
“I would watch Scott Van Pelt’s ESPN show because it was on late during some of my hardest treatments,” said Sammy. Whenever Sammy was having a particularly rough night, he would watch Scott’s show to cheer him up and make him laugh. “Scott Van Pelt was helping me out in a way that he never even knew at the time,” said Sammy.
When Sammy was referred to Make-A-Wish Arizona, there was no hesitation that his one true wish was to meet Scott Van Pelt, the person who had helped him in an indirect way during his recovery.
“I watched his show night after night for a year,” said Sammy. “To find out I was actually going to meet him was a dream come true.”
Scott Van Pelt, however, was not sure about being a wish granter. He had never granted a wish before, or had a wish requested to meet him so he had trepidations about creating a good experience. Make-A-Wish Arizona assured the Make-A-Wish America celebrity team that Sammy’s wish was very specific – Scott was the one he wished to meet. Even Make-A-Wish Connecticut, who has a board member who works at ESPN, encouraged Scott to meet with Sammy, to make the wish happen.
Scott didn’t have to worry about creating a good wish experience – his natural grace and positive personality were exactly what Sammy’s wish experience needed.
“I was a little nervous to meet him, and I didn’t really know what to expect at first,” said Sammy. “Scott made us all feel so comfortable and he was exactly how I pictured he would be. Together we talked sports, sports, and more sports.”
Sammy ended up spending over 8 hours at ESPN - starting off with dinner at the ESPN cafe with Scott where they talked about sports, sports and more sports. Sammy and Scott then toured the ESPN campus, met with producers, HR, technical managers, and more.
He even sat through the Sportscenter meeting where the talk and discussion about what would air that night took place.
Following the meeting, Sammy toured the studio where Scott’s show is filmed, and even sat at Scott’s desk – becoming a part of the show he had watched every night during treatment.
Before Scott’s show started, Scott shared a rundown of what he would be discussing on the live show with Sammy.
“It was really cool to be the first to know what he would be talking about on the show before the filming started,” said Sammy. Scott even mentioned Sammy during the broadcast.
While the show was filmed, Sammy, his brother Quentin, and his father sat in the studio and watched from start to finish.
The magic of the wish was not just in the time Sammy spent with Scott, but in the personal connection they made after “work hours”.
After the show, knowing the Diamondbacks are Sammy's favorite team, the crew and Scott sat with Sammy to watch the team’s game on television until around 1:30 a.m.
When it was time to say goodbye, Sammy and Scott were sad the day was over.
“At the end of the night, Scott shared his cell phone number and told me that although the day was over, it was not the end of our friendship,” said Sammy.
Sammy’s family could tell how much this day meant to not only him, but to Scott as well.
“Scott had tears in his eyes as he said good bye and told my mom that he was pretty sure this day meant more to him than it did to me,” said Sammy. “We now text back and forth on occasion about sports related topics, and keep in touch. All because of Make-A-Wish Arizona.”